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Auto blogSun, 26 May 2013 09:01:00 EST
It hasn't been without incident or union organizing drive, but the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, TN has built its 250,000 Passat in just a little over two years. The Night Blue Passat TDI with black leather has come just two years and five weeks after the first customer car came off the line on April 18, 2011.
In the last year the plant operated at the 150,000-unit capacity that it was intended for, but the downturn in Passat sales and subsequent worker layoffs mean it will be a challenge to repeat the feat. The plant does have the world's largest solar park, though, and you can't take that away from them.
You'll find the official hand-clapping in the press release below.
Brazil: the country of carnivals, indescribable beauty adjacent to abject poverty, Ayrton Senna and old Volkswagen models. Only they're not old - they're new, they're just based on old designs. The original Beetle continued production there long after it had been phased out elsewhere, but the original Kombi van has lasted much longer. That ends today, however, with the iconic VW Microbus ambling out of production on the last day of 2013.
VW kept making the van in Brazil with the original air-cooled 1.2-liter boxer four until 2005, after which the original design was updated with a 1.4-liter water-cooled engine. Today, however, it ultimately falls prey to safety regulations that mandate that all vehicles - no matter how old their design - need to have airbags and ABS, forcing Volkswagen do Brasil to cease production of the Microbus after a 56-year production run. But the latest word is that the Kombi (as it's presently known) could get a stay of execution - or at least a resurrection in short order.
According to reports, the Brazilian government is looking into granting the Type 2 Microbus an exemption from said safety regulations, reasoning that the van was designed long before the advent of airbags and ABS. If the measure goes through, the Kombi Last Edition (pictured above) could prove not to be the last at all. So what do you think, should the Microbus get an exemption from Brazilian safety regulations for nostalgia's sake? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.
In case you didn't know, Volkswagen is hell-bent on becoming the largest automaker in the world. The German carmaker has inched closer to that goal, having outsold General Motors in China last quarter for the first time in eight years.
Volkswagen's sales in China, its largest marker, increased by 21 percent last quarter to 704,991 units. Those numbers almost tripled GM's third-quarter growth, and were enough to beat out the American automaker's 664,765 sales. GM, however, still leads in year-to-date sales in China by a slim margin of around 77,000 units. The Asian nation also happens to be GM's largest market, and according to the report in Automotive News, China's car market may grow to be larger than the US, Japan and Germany combined in three years' time.
About the news his company was bested in China by VW last quarter, GM CEO Dan Akerson is quoted saying, "It's not whether you're the biggest car manufacturer. It's whether you want to be the most profitable." It should be noted of these figures that GM includes truck figures, yet excludes Hong Kong and Macau from its Chinese sales numbers, while VW does just the opposite. Through September of this year, Volkswagen had 5 of the 10 best selling vehicles in China. GM boasted three of the cars on that list.